The Town: Ultimate Collector's Edition [Blu-Ray] Ben Affleck

The Town: Ultimate Collector's Edition [Blu-Ray] Ben Affleck
The Boston-set crime thriller has become a virtual genre unto itself over the last decade or so, with entries ranging from the sublime (Mystic River) to the decidedly ridiculous (The Boondock Saints). The Town is one of the more prominent recent examples and it's good enough to escape overfamiliarity, though its basic ingredients by now seem very standard. Director/star Affleck plays Doug MacRay, a bank robber wearied by his trade, looking for a way out. The robbery seen at the film's beginning unexpectedly provides one, in the form of the bank manager, Claire (played with lovely restraint by Rebecca Hall), who Doug and his crew briefly take hostage. Doug is obliged to shadow her after the fact to make sure she doesn't pose a threat as a witness; inevitably, he falls for her, driving a wedge between himself and his partner in crime, Jem (Jeremy Renner). The criminal finding love, trying to go straight, etc. is such a shop-worn storyline that the onus is really on the filmmakers to tell their story with a fresh eye for character and atmosphere, and Affleck comes through. This, his second directing job (after 2007's Gone Baby Gone), is also his second film set in his hometown; like its precursor, it paints a vivid picture of the criminal underclass of one of Beantown's rougher neighbourhoods, in this case Charlestown, where bank robbery is a trade practiced by fathers and handed down to their sons, as an opening title informs us. The good news about this deluxe edition is that, along with the theatrical cut, an extended version is included, which adds considerably to the film's tapestry. Though the longer cut includes some repetitive passages, it also adds some choice character moments that add considerable depth, and give added scope to the performances by the superb cast, notably Jon Hamm as Doug's FBI nemesis, the late, great Pete Postlethwaite as a particularly vile crime boss and best of all, the charismatic Renner, channelling James Cagney with his energy and volatility. Most surprisingly, the cut includes a superior alternate ending that steers the film in a more grimly fatalistic direction reminiscent of The Departed. An added bonus is Affleck's commentaries on both cuts, in which, with disarming frankness, he relates the reasons for his choices and for the changes that made the film a more streamlined commercial thriller, while occasionally airing his thoughts on scenes that didn't work as well as they could have. This package also includes two featurettes, a booklet with production stills, a poster and reproductions of props from the movie, notably mug shots, an FBI report and amusingly, a rub-on tattoo sheet. For fans of the movie, it's the whole package. (Warner)